It was time for a day trip out of San Miguel, and our destination was Alegría – home to a famous crater lake and a pretty nearby village. To get there we had to take three buses – one along the main highway, and then two from the main highway towards the village of Alegría. The buses out of town leave from the Military Hospital, which was only a five minute walk from the hostel – so off we went.

In theory we could get any old bus with the destination as San Salvador along the main highway, so that’s what we did. The bus we flagged down was perhaps not the best choice, as it was standing room only for a while, and then CC got ‘lucky’ and was allocated a seat on a plastic stool in the aisle next to the toilet! 🙂 As we whizzed along the highway for around 40 minutes or so, an old lady kindly told us where we needed to get off – the town of El Triunfo. A quick bus change later and we were on our way to Santiago de María – a small town about 20 minutes from the highway. Yes, this was a triple bus journey! We walked a few blocks to the back of Santiago de María, and parked there was the battered old school bus for Alegría. We boarded and waited 20 minutes or so, and then we were off again! A short time later we jumped off at the turning just outside Alegría that leads to the lake – where it’s a 35 minute uphill walk to get there. So far so good! 🙂 The three bus journeys took a total of around an hour and 40 minutes.

The walk to the lake was a gentle uphill stroll through coffee plantations, and we spotted a bit of birdlife along the way.

The road to the laguna.
The road to the laguna passed a few houses along the way.
View down towards the town of Alegría.
We’ve arrived at the lake!

The lake had an official entrance fee which we paid at a booth on the way in, and then a few minutes later we got our first view of the lake. To be honest, it was slightly underwhelming! 🙂 It was the end of the dry season and there was not a lot of water in the lake!

Laguna de Alegría.

By now it was getting towards lunchtime, so we decided to buy some snacks from a small kiosk nearby and have a picnic. The place was pretty much deserted, so it was very tranquil.

The site of our picnic.

The lake has a trail that runs around its perimeter, so we figured that as we were here then we ought to walk around the lake. As is quite common in El Salvador, the lake is actually in an old volcano crater. It turned out to be a very relaxing stroll.

The track around the lake.
More of the track around the lake.
PB in front of the lake.
We made it to the water’s edge.
Two other people are also at the lake.
View of the hills around.

Despite the lack of water and the overcast weather making it difficult to see the lake’s famous green colour, we still enjoyed our trip to the lake. After our walk we headed back down the hill, and then walked another kilometre to get to the small town of Alegría.

Approaching the road after coming down the hill from the lake.

Our main destination in Alegría was the ‘Mirador of 1000 steps’ – a famous viewpoint overlooking the valley. We found it at the top of a hill – no surprise there! 🙂

The Mirador of 1000 steps.
The view down the very colourful 1000 steps of the mirador.
CC is enjoying herself at the mirador.

After the mirador it was time for a quick stroll around town for some more food. Alas, all the pupusa places were closed 🙁 We had to settle for some cassava fries – they weren’t too bad :-). The town was not very big, so it didn’t take long to look around. We got the feeling that this was the sort of place that was very busy on weekends, but that not much goes on during the week…

Coffee gathering mural in Alegría.
PB in the mean streets of Alegría.
Che Guevara mural in Alegría. ‘I would rather die standing than live on my knees’.
Church in Alegría.
PB is ready for his snack of fried cassava.

Soon enough it was time to take our triple-bus combo back to San Miguel. The main problem was working out where the bus stops were in the town… there were no markings at all, so we asked somebody and they told us to wait at a particular corner. After around 15 minutes waiting on a totally and utterly deserted random street corner, we decided it was better to walk the kilometre back to the main highway to make sure that the bus would actually come past. It did! 🙂 A couple of hours later we were back in San Miguel.

CC is smiling, but I’m pretty sure that she thinks that no bus is coming past here…

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